The cosmetics and dermatology sector in Mexico has many strengths for companies hoping to enter the market. Firstly, there are not as many generics being introduced as in the mainstream pharmaceutical market. Secondly, the sector is expected to see double-digit growth over the next decade due to rising demand. Finally, cosmetics are far easier to register in Mexico than other products, which often require two to three years for market approval. The whole field of aesthetic medicine is growing rapidly and many institutions and specialists are becoming more involved as they recognize this potential to build clientele and brand trust, as well as boosting profits. This evolution is evident at aesthetic medicine conferences where the range of doctors and professionals present is expanding.
FBD focuses on the private dermatology and cosmetics market, which is considered to be more transparent and easier to access than the public sector. The company elected to represent the Leorex brand in Mexico, and expert management of the distribution channels and market dynamics by Fernando Álvarez, Director General, meant it embarked on this new venture wholeheartedly. There are five products currently being commercialized under the Leorex brand and Álvarez wants to increase this number to 20. Firstly, the Leorex mask was launched, followed by the booster, a specialized treatment for the face and neck, and then a moisturizer, serum, and eye gel. The latter three products are already sold directly to the public and will be sold in pharmacies in the next two to three years.
Leorex employs nanoparticle technology. The world market for products that contain nanoparticles is expected to reach US$2.6 trillion in 2015. The Leorex mask is applied, and the nanoparticles build a matrix that adheres to the skin and contracts, providing anti-aging properties within 15 minutes. The reaction is physical, not biochemical, and lasts eight to ten hours. The mask can be applied in clinics, and FBD recommend it be applied directly before an event or social occasion.
As a cosmetic, Leorex could be sold everywhere but FBD strategically decided not to target the OTC market. Leorex is sold by prescription through specialized doctors only. Although this is not a legal requirement, it allowed the company to overcome the barriers to entry into the pharmacy market for smaller companies, and work through physicians and special dermatological pharmacies, such as Farmacia Dermatologica and San Pablo. The pharmacies themselves assume no responsibility for the development of a product, and companies are therefore required to pay for access to shelf space, ensure a certain amount of rotation, and sometimes pay extra for additional branding or advertising. This makes the initial investment quite hefty. Having seen many companies’ distribution channels expand rapidly by working directly with physicians, Álvarez still perceives plenty of room for the enterprise to grow working solely with dermatologists and plastic surgeons.
In terms of intellectual property rights to protect the Leorex technology, the company holds the patent in Israel and in Mexico, as well as that of another technology, PB Serum, which is based on enzymes. PB Serum applies the technology used in FBD products alongside other machines, such as radio frequency, carboxytherapy, and electroporation, and is unique in its field and it has no direct competitors with the same quantity of clinical trials or a compelling body of evidence.
The company has also launched Epiology, an innovative treatment from New Zealand to fight acne, that has already undergone clinical trials in New Zealand. Epiology began as an OTC product in pharmacies in New Zealand but FBD decided to begin selling it through dermatologists. The product contains an immunodefensive protein that possesses antiinflammatory effects, coupled with an activator to maximize these effects. This treatment is derived from a natural source, does not cause skin irritation, and remains classified as a cosmetic. Álvarez’ experience in the acne market meant his strategy to offer the product via dermatologists was a triumph, resulting in the dermatologists FBD works within Mexico being invited to present their experience with Epiology at a dermatology conference in New Zealand.
BD presents its marketing plans to the original brand owners before formulating a Mexico-specific strategy , which is adjusted according to feedback and experience. However, the company retains exclusivity agreements that ensure it can tak final decisions on producing Leorex, PE Serum, and Epiology successfully in Mexico. The company also chooses to work with SMEs, with the belief that they are often capable of driving innovation more than big pharmaceuticals. Extremely high quality aesthetic medicine is available in Mexico. Álvarez cites major hospitals employing plastic surgeons who provide an excellent level of care, although salons and spas are evolving from simply giving massages to offering full aesthetic procedures, which will require careful legislation
FBD’s Director General anticipates that Mexican authorities will implement even stronger regulations in the cosmetic sector, though as part of a broader vision for the country’s healthcare sector. Regulations need to be designed alongside a profound understanding of the knock-on effects of new regulation on the rest of the sector. According to Álvarez, the Mexican healthcare system has certain urgent priorities and cosmetics are being regulated, but as part of a chain of measures for the entire industry and involving clinics and hospitals directly to maintain strict controls on the whole industry
FBD plans to continue positioning Leorex among dermatologists and plastic surgeons. Álvarez also has high hopes for PB Serum and their Epiology products. Álvarez is positive about the future of the Mexican dermatology market. He notes that there are opportunities for Mexican companies to represent foreign brands in the country, as companies based in the US or the EU do not always consider Mexico as a priority market. However, FBD has seen that once it presents a business case to them, they are also often enthusiastic about the country’s potential.